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In recent years a number of major events have influenced Australians’ work, personal, family and community lives. The global financial crisis commenced in 2007/8 and international financial markets have experienced continuing instability. The Fair Work Act 2009 introduced a number of changes to the regulation of work. These included a new net of National Employment Standards that incorporated a formal right for some workers to request flexibility or extended unpaid parental leave from 1 January 2010. A national system of paid parental leave came into effect in January 2011. At the same time, the Australian labour force has continued to evolve, with increasing participation of women, declining rates of participation amongst men, an ageing workforce and a continuing shift in the composition of employment away from manufacturing and agriculture towards the services sector.

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